Thursday, December 03, 2009

'Friday Night' Sadness

This episode of Friday Night Lights was raw, emotional and tough to watch.  It was one of the show's finest hours (which is saying a lot for a series that's full of amazing outings).  I'll admit that I thought the death was going to be Matt's grandma, so learning that it was his father last week was shocking.  Of course, his father's job in the armed forces and his deployment meant that his life was always at risk, but I still wasn't expecting his tragic death.  And quite frankly, Matt wasn't either.  When he got the news, he didn't seem to process it or how it would change everything right away (who does?).  Watching him work through that process was heart-wrenching, painful and difficult.  And it was all done with the show's usual realism.

Losing someone we love is hard enough, but watching someone else go through it as authentically as Matt did this week was almost as tough.  There were so many heartbreaking moments.

While I understand why Matt insisted on seeing his father in the casket, I can't help but think that doing so made things worse for him.  He had spent most of the episode just going through the motions: sitting in the same spot at the wake while everyone went up to him to give their condolences, getting angry at the soldier charged with escorting his father's body, picking out a funeral package (how awesome is Tami Taylor?!!) and trying to come up with a eulogy for a man he had spent most of his life hating.  But his decision to lift the lid on that casket forced him to stop going through the motions and to start feeling all of the emotions that were swirling around inside him.  This was both good and bad.  It came to a head when he stopped by the Taylors' immediately after the casket incident.  It boiled over after carrots (which he doesn't like) touched his chicken.  Suddenly, he was going on about how easy it had been to hate his father and to blame him for everything wrong in his life and then he broke down and walked out.  The too-wonderful-for-words Coach Taylor went after him, but only to walk him home.  Seriously, has there been a better moment of television this season?  This year?  This decade?  Incredible, powerful TV and there were only 5 words spoken: "I'm gonna walk you home."

There were so many "real" moments in this one -- too many to name -- but due to personal experiences in my life right now, I found Julie's fears about losing her own father to hit home the hardest.  And the fact that Coach Taylor instinctively knew what was wrong with his daughter was just another beautiful moment.  Later at the funeral, Matt seemed to be dealing with things better.  He delivered a good-natured eulogy and he decided that he should be the one to shovel the dirt over his father's grave.  It was emotional, but in a more cathartic way.

Elsewhere, it was good to see Lyla again.  I'm looking forward to more from her next week.  Riggins needs to tread lightly with Becky.  She has major daddy issues and he SLEPT WITH HER MOM!!  I'm hoping that Luke's interest in her will distract her from Riggins.  It was nice to get the Smash Williams shout-out during the college game that Coach Taylor was watching.  And finally, I'm just going to say it: I HATE J.D. McCoy!  He's a punk!  There, I said it.

Friday Night Lights is all-new and commercial-free Wednesday nights on DirecTV's 101. The fourth season will be seen in its entirety next year on NBC.     

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